Blackpool's driving theory test centre to close with learners told to travel to Preston
Blackpool's learner drivers will now have to travel to Preston to take their theory test after the DVSA decided to shut the theory test centre in the resort.
The theory test centre based at Blackpool Technology Park in Faraday Way is one of 6 test centres in the North West to be axed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
It follows a review of test centre locations by the agency as it continues to battle with a backlog of tests due to the coronavirus lockdowns.
Ironically, the DVSA has also announced that the total number of theory test centres in England will increase from 180 to 202, which they say will make it "easier" for learner drivers to book their theory test.
But for learners in Blackpool and the Fylde coast, it means a 34-mile round trip to the nearest theory test centre in Preston.
Learners from Southport will also have to visit Preston to take their theory test, with the Merseyside resort on the list of towns set to lose their own centres.
The agency says it will handle increased demand at the Preston test centre by making more tests available from September 6.
A DVSA spokesman said: "Because the new contract to run the theory test service has been awarded to more than one company, the location of many theory test centres will change from September 6.
"We have tried to make decisions that are best for as many customers as possible.
"However, in some cases this means some people will now have to travel further, though the distance will have decreased in other cases.
"The increased number of theory test centres (from 180 to 202 across Great Britain) will result in a more even distribution of test centre locations and will make theory tests more accessible to those in remote areas of the country.
"In the new network all candidates should not have to travel more than 40 miles (rural) or 40 minutes (urban) to get to a test centre unless they choose to travel further."
The DVSA added there are no plans to make changes to its practical tests in Blackpool and the Fylde, which will continue as normal.
The move has caused an uproar among Fylde instructors, with some saying they intend to "fight" the decision to keep the Blackpool driving theory test centre open.
Local driving instructor David Bradley said: "We have today been informed that the theory driving test centre at Blackpool is to be permanently closed. We are further informed that our nearest theory centre will be Preston.
"We personally think this decision is a disgrace. It comes without any thought or regard for the inconvenience and hardship that the closure will cause to our customers.
"We will keep you updated on the situation but be assured we and other local driving schools intend to fight on your behalf to try and keep a test centre open for Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde learners."
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